With its ability to build highly performant and scalable server-side applications, Node.js has risen to a go-to solution for businesses looking to deliver real-time applications and APIs to their customers. Its cross-platform capabilities make Node a flexible choice for organizations with diverse technological landscapes, while the large and active community provides a wealth of resources, documentation, and third-party modules to empower organizations to deliver more value through powerful web applications.

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a popular cross platform, open-source, runtime environment used to build back-end applications, using JavaScript outside of the browser. Node.js operates on a single threaded architecture, using non-blocking I/O calls held in event loops to enable the processing of thousands of concurrent connections and requests.

While Node.js is versatile and widely used, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Node.js is built with specific needs in mind and excels in areas such as developing real-time push-capable applications. Through low latency and an ability to serve a huge number of concurrent requests while maintaining a high throughput, Node.js is fantastic for building fast and highly scalable applications.

Built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine and designed to run web applications outside of the client’s browser, NodeJS is used for server-side programming. Since every browser has a JS engine, Node.js allows for unified maintenance, running, and development of whole sites, as the same language can be used for both front-end and back-end development.

Key properties of Node.js

Node.js is made up of several key concepts that heavily influence when and where it’s best used. Node.js is not a magic bullet or solution. Instead, its best use-cases maximize Node’s strengths, while minimizing the impact of its weaknesses. Here we explore concepts including Node’s event-driven I/O architecture, single threaded event loop, asynchronous processing, and more:

  • Event driven programming

  • Single threaded architecture

  • Asynchronous operation

  • Open source and free

  • Access to Node Package Manager (NPM)

  • Under the MIT license

Event driven

Event driven programming is a paradigm in which the flow of the code’s execution is determined by events. Events can be user actions such as clicks and input from sensors. Applications that use event-driven programming are designed to respond to user engagement and actions. Since Node.js uses event-driven programming together with its asynchronous architecture, it’s ideal for processing high-volume concurrent user connections and requests.

Single threaded

JavaScript runs on a single thread based on Node.js’s single threaded event loop architecture; which is designed to handle multiple concurrent requests. Single threaded means that the processes are executed one command at a time. While Node.js uses several threads, it has only one executing thread to perform operations.


Node.js is asynchronous by default, allowing the efficient processing of multiple requests. Asynchronous operations enable more time-consuming tasks to be executed without blocking the calling thread while the operation competes. As such, other blocks can be processed while awaiting the result from the previous operation. Node.js is best used asynchronously due to its single-threaded execution.

“Asynchronous operations enable more time-consuming tasks to be executed without blocking the calling thread.”

Open source

Node.js is open-source and free to use. You can download Node.js directly to your computer and start building applications right away. Most Node.js projects are also open source and frequently used by enterprises for their own projects, tools, and applications.

Node Package Manager (NPM)

NPM stands for Node Package Manager. It’s installed on your computer when you install Node.js. NPM is the manager for thousands of free to use, downloadable Node.js packages and modules. NPM is highly configurable, managing conflicts and discrepancies, letting you more effectively develop and install Node.js programs and applications.

MIT license

Node.js is under the MIT license, which is highly permissive, allowing users to copy, modify, distribute, merge, publish, and even sell copies of the software. Anyone that has a copy of Node.js has the right to reuse the code for any purpose.

A brief history of Node.js

2009 – 2012

Node.js emerged as an open-source project in 2009. Its primary goal was to enable asynchronous event-driven programming on the server side. The event-driven, non-blocking I/O model attracted developers due to its efficiency and scalability.

2013 – 2016

Node.js gained significant popularity and established itself as a mature platform. It introduced improved performance and stability through updates like the V8 JavaScript engine, libuv and the npm ecosystem, with its extensive collection of modules.

2017 onwards

Node.js witnessed increased emphasis on security, performance optimization, and developer experience. The ecosystem is flourishing with frameworks (Express, Nest.js), libraries, and tools, facilitating the development of robust and scalable applications.

How does Node.js work?

Node.js is a runtime environment that runs on the Chrome V8 Engine, which converts the JavaScript code into machine code. As a runtime environment, Node.js can execute JavaScript code in real time outside of the browser – enabling developers to use JavaScript for server-side programming, for example.

Traditionally, JavaScript could only be executed inside the browser – and each browser had a different JS engine. As mentioned above, Node.js runs on the Chrome V8 Engine, freeing it from needing to be executed solely in-browser.

As a result, Node.js can be used to build whole platforms in a unified stack from frontend to backend with JavaScript – something that makes building and maintaining applications more efficient and streamlined. Below we’ll look at two important aspects of Node.js’s functionality.

Node.js executes non-blocking I/O methods asynchronously, meaning that the code isn’t necessarily executed one line at a time. Instead, Node.js calls a function and doesn’t have to wait for it to be returned before moving onto other functions. The request is queued immediately and the I/O is processed at a later point.

Single threaded event loop architecture

Node.js’s processing model is based on JavaScript’s event-based model and callback function, allowing the handling of high-volumes of concurrent requests. Node.js’s architecture can split into the following components:

  • Node.js server: Node.js has a server-side platform that receives and processes users’ requests, returning the results correspondingly to each user.

  • Requests: Requests are either blocking or non-blocking depending on what the user is trying to do in a web application.

  • Thread pool: The thread pool contains all of the available threads for executing tasks and fulfilling user requests. In Node.js, there are two types of threads; the event/main loop, and a pool of worker threads. These worker threads process longer-running operations without blocking the main thread.

  • Event queue: Node.js’s server holds received requests in the event queue, assigning them to the main event loop to be processed when its call stack is empty (i.e., when there are no ongoing operations)

  • Event loop: Node.js event loop is an endless loop that awaits pending tasks from the event queue, executes them, and returns the result. The event loop will sleep when its call stack is empty and there are no pending tasks held in the event queue.

Understanding a typical Node.js workflow

In a typical Node.js workflow, the architecture revolves around the interaction between the client, web server, and event loop. When a client wants to engage with a web application, it sends a request to the web server. These requests can vary from querying the database to updating or deleting data. Once received, the server, powered by Node.js, adds the incoming requests to the event queue.

Within the event loop, the requests are processed one by one. The event loop first checks if a request requires external resources, such as data storage or computation. For simple, non-blocking requests, the event loop handles them directly and promptly returns the result to the client.

“The efficient and asynchronous nature of Node.js allows for scalable and responsive web applications”

However, for more complex and blocking requests, the event loop assigns them to a specific thread from the thread pool. This allows these tasks to be processed separately from the event loop. The thread processes the request and returns the result to the event loop upon completion.

Once a task is completed, it is passed back to the event loop. The event loop, in turn, sends the response back to the client, effectively completing the workflow. This efficient and asynchronous nature of Node.js allows for scalable and responsive web applications.

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Advantages of using Node.js

Node.js is a runtime environment that runs on the Chrome V8 Engine, allowing it to execute code outside of the browser. Node’s versatility and scalability are largely due to being non-blocking I/O, event driven, and with the ability to concurrently process high volumes of requests at the same time.

Fast performance

Node.js is particularly fast for web applications that spend a lot of time requesting information from the database or waiting on the network. Node.js is highly event-driven, which makes it very fast.

Highly scalable

Node.js uses a single thread to handle non-blocking calls, allowing it to handle high volumes of concurrent requests without overwhelming system resources. Scaling applications is a core strength.

No buffering

Node.js uses the callback function to output data in blocks. to cut down on processing time and so the consumer of the data doesn’t need to wait for the whole operation to complete before receiving the data.

Full stack JavaScript

Developers can build both the backend and frontend of applications using only JavaScript. Businesses can build cross-functional teams with full stack capabilities, leading to smoother collaboration.

Large and active community

Node.js and JavaScript have one of the largest, most active, and supportive communities among modern technologies, making the learning process quicker and development more efficient.

Improved developer productivity

Node.js provides a range of tools, frameworks, and libraries to enhance productivity. With a large and active community, developers can leverage NPM modules to quickly integrate functionalities.

Who uses Node.js?

Node.js is actively and extensively used with real-world applications – many of which you might use on a daily basis. We often hear how Node.js works well in high-speed, real-time web applications – but what are they? Is Node.js only used on smaller projects or on a massive scale by industry leaders? Here we explore some real examples of how and where Node.js is used today! Let’s take a look.


Previously built with Java backend, Netflix had great data management, but offered comparatively poor user waiting times. One of Netflix’s goals was to improve user site loading speeds – and this is where Node.js was effectively introduced.

Moving over to Node.js enabled Netflix to streamline communication between the frontend and backend; whereas previously the transition between frontend and backend wasn’t as smooth, which led to higher load times and increased latency at the end-user level.

3 ways Netflix benefited from using Node.js:

  • 70% net reduction in its interface startup time (from 5-10 seconds down to just 1 second).

  • 30-minute plus Java startup time brought down to just one minute.

  • Efficient and improved scalability as Netflix’s userbase rapidly grew.


LinkedIn’s app was built with Ruby on Rails. Its growing user base would have meant sinking huge resources into hardware expansion – without necessarily solving the underlying software issues. LinkedIn’s choice to switch over to Node.js better suited processing multiple concurrent requests, particularly when user traffic increased. Today, LinkedIn is one of the largest apps that use Node.js on its backend.

How switching to Node.js helped LinkedIn:

  • Massively reduced the hardware resource requirements to host their app.

  • Made it easier for developers to manage and maintain frontend to backend interactions.

  • LinkedIn’s codebase became more modular and was simplified app-wide.


As one of the world’s largest domain name and hosting providers, GoDaddy places great importance on their server load and pricing. With the goals of reducing server load, bringing down prices, and improving the performance of their website builder tool, GoDaddy adopted Node.js back in 2016. Today, GoDaddy is one of the world’s largest Node.js backers.

How Node.js benefited GoDaddy:

  • Improved the performance of websites built with GoDaddy’s builder tool.

  • Slashed costs significantly, making their hosting more accessible.

  • Launched their rebranded website in under 60-minutes, in which Node.js played an important role in enabling a smooth transition.

Asked Questions.

Node.js is used to build fast and highly scalable web applications, backend API services, and real-time, push-based applications. Node.js’s non-blocking I/O, event-driven architecture lends well to handling multiple concurrent requests and data-intensive applications. Node.js has a rich and vibrant ecosystem of open-source modules and packages that developers be integrate into new and existing projects – speeding up and streamlining development – as developers can leverage existing code rather than wasting time on boilerplate code.

Node.js is actively used by several large companies and organizations around the world, including popular brands such as Netflix, Trello, LinkedIn, GoDaddy, PayPal, Uber, and many more. Node.js has increased in popularity over the past several years and still stands as one of the most widely-used software development technologies.

Node.js is not a framework. Node.js is a runtime environment powered by Chrome’s V8 engine, allowing Node.js to execute JavaScript code outside of the browser. Node.js is the foundation for several widely used frameworks such as Express.js and Next.js.

Node.js can be used to build both frontend and backend web applications using JavaScript. Previously, you’d have to build the frontend and backend with different programming languages, frequently switching between contexts, etc. It’s a common misconception that Node.js is a backend-only technology – even though it’s more commonly used to build backend API services, web applications, and web servers.

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Let’s discuss the future of your organization and how we can guide you on your journey to successful digital transformation.